Next-generation electric wheelchair accessible vehicle concept revealed

20th March 2024

Motability Operations, the commercial organisation that delivers the life-changing Motability Scheme to disabled people across the UK, reveals eVITA, a next-generation electric wheelchair accessible vehicle (eWAV) concept. Designed and engineered by CALLUM, eVITA addresses the needs of passenger WAV users in the transition to small/medium electric vehicles.

The EV concept has been developed using inclusive design principles with input from Motability Scheme customers throughout. Utilising eVITA to demonstrate what is possible, Motability Operations wants to collaborate with the automotive industry to ensure inclusive design principles are considered throughout development, so that wheelchair users are not left behind.

Motability Operations is supporting its 750,000 customers in the transition to EVs by highlighting challenges and finding solutions. It currently has over 34,000 WAVs on the road, with around 4,000 applications each year for small and medium WAVs. In many EVs, the floor-mounted battery reduces internal height and space within the cabin and also limits the available payload. Without a solution, this would lead to customers in a wheelchair having to opt for larger vehicles than they need when switching to electric.

“The transition to electric simply won’t work unless it’s accessible for all,” says Andrew Miller, chief executive of Motability Operations. “We have the largest fleet in the UK and three quarters of a million disabled customers who rely on their vehicles for their independence. Our customers aren’t the typical early EV adopters, they’re more representative of the wider population, and we know from first-hand insight what the challenges of having an EV will be for everyone. Without solutions and an equitable switch to electric, thousands of people could be left behind.

“This is most pressing for our customers who use wheelchair accessible vehicles as they don’t have an obvious or affordable solution to transition to a smaller EV. We were determined to find a way forward, and I’m absolutely delighted that we have developed the eVITA concept with CALLUM that genuinely has accessibility and inclusivity at the heart of its design, demonstrating what is possible. We’re sharing our knowledge and understanding with the industry – manufacturers, designers and engineers – to support an EV transition that works for everyone.”

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